Soldiers turned back hundreds of Israeli peace activists Saturday as they traveled to meet with Palestinians in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, but dozens sneaked past military roadblocks, Palestinian sources and Israel Radio said.
In Ramallah, where a leaflet was distributed calling on residents to meet with the Peace Now activists, soldiers shot and wounded at least two Palestinians while trying to disperse a crowd of residents, the Palestinian sources said. State-run Israel Radio said nine Arabs were arrested in Ramallah following stone-throwing incidents.Local military commanders declared several towns on the Peace Now list closed areas and blocked the Israelis from entering, Palestinian sources said. But dozens of peace activists circumvented military roadblocks and met with Palestinians in the West Bank villages of Beit Ummar and Nasariyeh, the sources and Israel Radio reported.
An estimated 200 peace activists prevented from entering Ramallah, nine miles north of Jerusalem, demonstrated at a military roadblock along the Jerusalem-Ra-mallah highway and held a second protest in Arab East Jerusalem.
Police tried to force more than 50 Palestinians who gathered for the East Jerusalem demonstration to leave the area, but they remained and the authorities backed off. No violence was reported.
At a military roadblock in the northern West Bank, Israeli parliamentarian Yair Tzaban yelled to Palestinians on the other side that they should keep extremists from stopping peace efforts, Israel Radio reported. Another Knesset member, Dedi Zucker, succeeded in meeting with Palestinians in the southern West Bank village of Beit Ummar, Palestinian sources said.
Also Saturday, 21 organizations and individuals in Nablus, the largest West Bank town, wrote a letter addressed to the United Nations secretary-general and Security Council members, Pope John Paul II and the Red Cross, seeking their help.
Nablus, with more than 90,000 residents, has been under curfew since Feb. 24 when an Israeli soldier was killed in the city's casbah. Residents have been allowed out of their homes only twice for a total of three hours to get food.